Fiji name side for All Blacks clash
July 18, 2011
Seremaia Bai is set to retain the No.10 shirt for Fiji's clash with the All Blacks on Friday night © Getty Images
Fiji have been forced into several changes ahead of their clash with New Zealand in Dunedin on Friday night.
No.8 Sisa Koyamaibole misses the one-off Test due to a two-week suspension that followed his sending off during his side's controversial IRB Pacific Nations Cup clash with Japan last weekend. Centre Seru Rabeni also saw red in that match and was also banned and subsequently dropped from the 35-man squad for this game and the Punjas Test Series against Tonga in August.
Prop Graham Dewes, another player to have helped Fiji to the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, is also facing a battle to make this year's tournament having been left out of the latest squad. Both Rabeni and Dewes have been sent back to their respective clubs and while they remain in the mix, their World Cup chances now look remote.
Fiji have also been denied the services of lock Leone Nakarawa who has been barred from entering New Zealand because he is in the Fijian army. New Zealand has imposed travel sanctions against Fiji, refusing visas to members of the military and their families, since a 2006 coup.
Nakarawa was named in Fiji's World Cup training squad of 35 but was not included in the 24-man group set to travel to New Zealand later this week while Gabriel Lovobalavu, Kini Murimurivalu and Talemaitoga Tuapati were unavailable because of injury. Prop Deacon Manu is set to captain the side against the All Blacks while Seremaia Bai is in line to retain the No.10 shirt he wore in the 24-13 loss to Japan with Nicky Little suffering from bruised ribs.
Centre Ravai Fatiaki is relishing the occasion and said: "I'm thrilled to have been given this opportunity and I go out onto the field representing my family, my village and the people of Fiji.
"We're up against the best team in the world but, as Samoa showed last Sunday, nothing is impossible if we have the heart and the trust to believe in each other and in our abilities then nothing can hold us back."
Fiji: Iliesa Keresoni, Timoci Nagusa, Albert Vulivuli, Ravai Fatiaki, Napolioni Nalaga, Seremaia Baikeinuku, Nemia Serelevu; Campese Ma'afu, Sunia Koto, Deacon Manu (c), Sekonaia Kalou, Rupeni Nasiga, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Akapusi Qera, Sakiusa Matadigo,
Replacements: Viliame Veikoso, Setefano Somoca, Josefa Domolailai, Malakai Ravulo, Vitori Buatava, Taniela Rawaqa, Vereniki Goneva
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship